Dear Family and Friends,
They celebrate Christmas a little differently out here—they don’t go “all out” like we do in America. But, the Izumi chapel has a fake Christmas tree that is decorated, and garlands hanging on the staircase for the ward Christmas Party on Saturday (I’ll be playing my violin – “Away in A Manger”). In our apartment, the only things that look like Christmas are the two origami Christmas trees my English class students gave me, a little stocking from President and Sister Tateoka, and a Christmas card from the First Presidency to me (they send to all the missionaries!). But I’m grateful that I can spend Christmas this way- focused on the Lord’s work! We were able to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional (in English). It was so wonderful! I loved the Tabernacle Choir music, and the talks, especially President Monson’s story. It reminded me of the true meaning of Christmas. How grateful I am for the Savior’s birth and His life that He gave for us!
This week we had Zone Conference. It was so wonderful to be with all the other missionaries in our zone, hear the inspired words of our mission president and be reminded of how important our calling is! President Tateoka truly is inspired! This really is the Lord’s work. There’s no way 19-25 year olds could do this themselves!
Yoneda Shimai and I have grown used to each other and have a wonderful time serving together. I still can’t always understand what she says, but I’m learning more and more each day. This past week the Lord has blessed us with wonderful experiences and miracles. We’ve been working so hard to find people to teach and for a few weeks we had no investigators,but then this last week, we taught two new investigators and commited them to be baptized! They are both member’s friends, and have been prepared to hear the gospel!
One is Aihara san, Tomoe Shimai and Sait Kyodai’s friend (Both Tomoe and Saito were recently baptized). He’s 25 years old, and as we taught about the Restoration, he just believed it! He said he doesn’t know why he does, but he believes it’s true! We’re preparing him to be baptized December 27.
The other is Mizuho san, my same age and a college student! She is a friend of another recent convert; she’s come to Eikaiwa (English class) a few times and the Halloween Party because her member friend invited her. On Saturday night we had a “mogi” lesson (practice lesson with members) scheduled with the recent convert, Yukina Shimai—She called about an hour before and said she was bringing her friend Mizuho san! Yoneda Shimai and I had a little time to prepare. We prayed together and felt like we should teach about the Plan of Salvation. The Spirit was there during the lesson, and Mizuho san said it made sense. She felt like it was true! Yoneda Shimai was able to answer Mizuho’s questions with scriptures that Mizuho san needed to hear. Yukina Shimai, her friend, bore testimony and helped answer Mizuho san’s questions.
It was so amazing, and another witness to me that this is the Lord’s work! I love serving Him out here in Japan and know it’s where He wants me to be. I’m filled with love the Savior this Christmas time and am grateful for the chance I have to share it with the people of Izumi!
I love all of you so much! I pray you’ll have a wonderful Christmas and especially remember what the Savior has done for us all!